A Covenant Open to All

Isaiah 56:6-8

The Biblical text from the NRSV is always found in the first column.

The reflection by Fr. Dennis Chriszt, CPPS is always found in the second column.

And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.

For Isaiah, the covenant is not just with the house of Israel. It is a covenant with all people “who join themselves to the Lord.” This prophecy is addressed to Israel, but it lets them know that the covenant is not Israel’s exclusive possession. It belongs to all, to the “outcasts of Israel” and to all the “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, …[who] minister to him, …[who] love the name of the Lord, …who keep the sabbath, …[who] hold fast to [God’s] covenant.”

In the gospels, Jesus quotes form this very passage, as he describes the Temple as “a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Most of us are not people of the covenant by birth. We are not genetically related to the people of Israel. We are people of the covenant because Jesus the Christ and his disciples after him have taught us “to love the name of the Lord and to be his servants.”

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